Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression and Anxiety Attacks

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As it is characteristic of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Donald Meichenbaum’s treatment of the client, Anna, was a short-term therapy, only lasting about 20 sessions. His eclectic style of work was elicited by Anna because she was horribly depressed and had currently experienced bouts of panic attacks that were making her life miserable, and affecting the lives of those around her.

Meichenbaum took a CBT approach with Anna within the first few sessions in order to help rid her of her panic attacks. First, he asked her to close her eyes and envision the last panic attack she had experienced and then asked her to describe how she felt in the first instances of the attack. In doing so, Anna felt the symptoms returning, and Meichenbaum began calming her. After knowing exactly how the panic attacks began, he gave Anna tools to use in order to stop the panic attacks. Meichenbaum felt that Anna’s maladaptive thinking set off the panic attacks. Reactions to things such as her daughter yelling at her for not knocking on the door made Anna believe that she was not a good mother, that she was incapable of doing anything “right” and this then elicited heavy breathing (hyperventilating), which then brought on shivers and all sorts of other uncomfortable effects that caused Anna to spiral into a panic attack state that brought her to the hospital on more than one occasion. Meichenbaum called it Anna’s vicious cycle, and in doing so, led her to realize that if she controlled the hyperventilating, that she would then be able to nip the panic attack in the bud. Meichenbaum asked Anna to breathe in deeply and to slowly, slowly let the breath out, as if she were trying to cool a hot spoonful of soup. Anna used this tool to calm herself and think more clearly about an upsetting situation the next time she felt her breath begin to get heavy and said that it stopped what felt like the beginning of a panic attack.

Meichenbaum worked with Anna’s panic attacks rather...
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